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‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ movie is a flat-out letdown

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Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

A predominant name in horror game history, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” has broken the barrier of video games and has now made its way to the silver screen.

You will be surprised if you go into the film expecting a horror movie — because it’s not. It’s actually a comedy with how laughably terrible it is.

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FNaF is a game, later turned into a nine-game franchise, created by Scott Cawthon. FNaF has received critical acclaim for each entry of the series. It has garnered thousands of players as well as YouTubers who film themselves playing along. 

“With books, YouTube videos and nine games in the series that analyze the theories of the game, you would think the movie uses a majority of the well-put-together lore. But to much dismay, it doesn’t.”

The movie features protagonist Mike Schmidt (Josh Hutcherson), a man struggling to maintain a stable living while supporting his younger sister, Abby. After being fired from his job, Mike is offered a new position as a night security guard at an abandoned establishment, Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria.

While adjusting to his new job, Mike slowly comes to realize the horrifying discovery that the animatronics in the building are actually possessed.

What follows is an almost two-hour runtime that uses almost every minute to insult the audience and the FNaF fanbase.

However, the experience of watching “Five Nights at Freddy’s” come to life was exciting and semi-entertaining, especially considering its video game origins — heavy emphasis on “semi.”

One of the many things this film does wrong is the pacing. The “scariest” part of the film happens around 45 minutes in, which is quick and anticlimactic. Without spoiling the scene, it’s the closest thing the movie gets to feeling like the game.

Another criticism of the movie is the writing. The movie attempts but fails to create characters who are believable; most of their personalities are one-dimensional. The film falls back on cliche movie tropes and fails to create captivating characters.

Not to mention there are a handful of plot holes riddled throughout the film. After the movie’s conclusion, you’ll be left asking — from a logical perspective — why many decisions were made by characters.

Thankfully, the only decently written character was the protagonist, Mike. His character has a well-written narrative with a semi-compelling backstory. However, to the film’s detriment, his personal conflicts are continuously brought up throughout the film, which aids the film’s storytelling the first handful of times but becomes old as the film progresses.

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Finally, the treatment of the original FNaF lore is easily the worst. With books, YouTube videos and nine games in the series that analyze the theories of the game, you would think the movie uses a majority of the well-put-together lore. But to much dismay, it doesn’t.

The lore itself is packed with conspiracy, children being kidnapped, murders and other golden horror tropes that could make for a great movie. The only part of the lore that stays intact with the movie is the absolute bare bones of the original story of the first game, and all the rest is fluffed Hollywood garbage.

However, despite the many criticisms of this movie, there are a few positives, one being the suit designs of the animatronics. They truly look accurate to the video game, and a viewer can definitely tell there was care and precision put into the designs of the suits, which is surreal to see and adds to the overall immersion of the story.

The second well-done aspect of the film was the set design. There were small details packed into the backgrounds of the establishment that closely resemble props and images found within the games.

The third best thing about the movie was when the screen turned black and the credits started rolling.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is hands-down one of the most frustrating cinematic experiences. A fumbled story that’s littered with plot holes, pacing that is painfully confusing and haphazardly put together and extensive lore that is practically thrown out the window for no reason whatsoever all feel like a firm slap in the face to the audience.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual horror film enjoyer, “Five Nights at Freddy’s” will undoubtedly disappoint you.

Reach Christian Arndt at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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About the Contributor
Christian Arndt
Christian Arndt, Life & Culture Editor
Christian Arndt is this year's editor for the life and culture desk at The Collegian. Arndt joined The Collegian in the winter of 2023, when he started as an arts and entertainment writer, primarily focusing on movie reviews, local art installations and music-curated lists. Arndt is the second life and culture editor and is proud to step into this position. He is focusing on providing the best local coverage in the Fort Collins area with a focus on unique business profiles, important cultural events and fun local happenings. Arndt comes from Silverthorne, Colorado, and came to Colorado State University in the fall of 2021. He is a third-year and is majoring in journalism and media communication with a minor in English. He found his passion for writing during his English classes in high school, and eventually with the style he chose to pursue, he ended up finding a passion within journalism. Because he had no prior experience with journalism, he was adamant to join The Collegian and build up his experience and reputation there. Aside from writing for the paper, you can find him at the cinema, watching basketball, playing video games with friends, walking his adorable dog Penny Lane, snowboarding and listening to plenty of music. Arndt finds his role as an editor thrilling and looks forward to providing the utmost care and consistency with the content that comes out for the life and culture desk.

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